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Parents voice concerns over Monroe Middle School lunch study hall

MONROE (WKOW) — Some parents are mad about a policy at Monroe Middle School to encourage students to finish their homework.

They say their kids are being denied a hot lunch as punishment.

The parents are voicing their outrage on social media, over a policy they say they never knew existed.

“It’s really frustrating,” Jennifer Herbst, a mother of a Monroe Middle Schooler said. “It actually really makes me mad.”

Principal Brian Boehm says the policy, Formative Completion Project, started three years ago in a response to a low homework completion rate.

It is listed in the Monroe Middle School Family Handbook on page 21, which is sent home to every parent.

“They have from Friday to the end of the day Monday to get [missed work from the week] completed,” Boehm said. “If they haven’t completed the work in that time, beginning on Tuesday, they have a lunch and recess study hall.”

During that study hall, the school provides a bag lunch to students, who didn’t bring food from home, as a time saving measure to avoid the lunch lines.

Boehm said it’s the same lunch provided to students on field trips.

It’s that lunch most parents are finding issue with.

“She wasn’t getting the hot lunch that was provided that I was paying for and over the time I noticed that she lost a lot of weight,” Herbst said.

She claims her 7th Grade daughter lost 22 pounds last year because she wasn’t eating the lunch provided.

“She doesn’t like cheese sandwiches, she doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly, she doesn’t like vegetables,” Herbst said. “She’s more of a cheeseburger person.”

Her main concern is that it feels like the denial of the hot lunch is being used as a punishment.

“I’m all about getting them in the room and getting homework done, I’ve always been about that,” she said. “But you’re taking away that free hot lunch that they get through the school and taking that away to give them some crappy food.”

Boehm says the food provided is a healthy, complete meal, comprised of a choice of one of four sandwiches, apple slices or an orange, carrots, juice and either white or chocolate milk.

He says with the FCP, homework completion has gone from 23 percent of students to more than 80 percent.

“The feedback we’re getting from parents is ‘Thank you very much’, it makes the conversations at the dinner table way easier,” Boehm said. “‘What work do you have?’ the kids know it, ‘When are you gonna do it?’ they have a plan for getting it done.”

While it isn’t clearly stated, parents have the option to opt out of the program if they want to.

In the three years of the program, Boehm said, only three parents have decided so far to opt out.

He added that they may include the opt out option in the Family Handbook, to avoid the confusion in the future.

Courtney Terlecki

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